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12 Things to Look For When Considering a Contractor

If you're considering getting major remodeling work done at your home...or even thinking about building a brand new home; here are 12 "key ingredients" to ensuring that your contractor will be the best fit for you and your project.

The Home Contractor top 12 checklist

1. Promptness

Does your contractor keep appointments? A contractor’s day can be busy - but so can yours. From the start good communication and respect for your time indicates how your project will be treated. Little things count, and the courtesy of a call when the contractor is running late says a lot. 

2. Open Communication

You should be able to communicate easily and honestly with your contractor. Open communication builds trust — and trust is paramount to the success of your project. Remember the person you hire will have total access to your home. If this worries you, listen to your gut feeling.

3. Excellent References

How a contractor has done business in the past is an indication of how he’ll do business with you. The contractor’s reference list should include several former clients, and some of those projects should resemble yours. Ask your contractor which project was similar to yours. You should also ask for references to at least 3 local wholesale suppliers. A contractor should not only have
a history of prompt payment to creditors, but a good reputation with those suppliers. A contractor who is severely behind on payments is a big red flag.

4. Resources for Good Design Work

Whether the contractor offers in-house design services or has professional associations, a good contractor should be able to deliver quality design and planning services. Plans should be accurate and detailed. With an organized and understandable process, you have a better chance of hiring a contractor who isn’t flying by the seat of his pants.

5. Membership and Participation in BRAG and/or the local NARI Chapter

The Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor (BRAG Ann Arbor) and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) are two organizations that promote professionalism and ethical practices in the industry. Active participation in these organizations means that your contractor cares about professionalism and high standards. Fly-by-night contractors do not join professional organizations.

6. Membership in Other Professional or Community Organizations

You can learn a lot about a contractor by looking at their organizational affiliations. Is your contractor involved in other professional networks or community groups? Do they hold any leadership positions? What organizations are they involved in and why?

7. Warranty and After-Completion Resources

Your project is complete and you are pleased with the results...but what happens if something goes wrong after your contractor has left? Make sure that your contractor has a warranty that is included in the contract. In addition, check to see what type of support the contractor can offer after the warranty period is up. Do they offer resources to assist you with maintenance or repairs after the warranty has expired? This can be very advantageous as your contractor is familiar with your home and can often quickly identify issues and expedite repairs.

8. Employees

It’s always better to choose a contractor who hires his own workers. These builders are more likely to actively manage their projects, and their workers probably understand the big picture and are as invested as the owner in providing superior workmanship and service. These companies tend to be more tightly organized in their business practices, which means that your project is likely to be completed quickly and efficiently. By contrast, when a contractor is spread too thin, the subcontractors run the jobs by default. But a subcontractor does not understand the whole scope of the project and is not qualified to make decisions that will impact the end product.

9. Quality of Subcontractors

The contractor should have a stable of quality subcontractors in all trades. The best subcontractors work for the best builders, those who know the value of good workmanship and who pay their subcontractors promptly.

10. Creative Problem-Solving

Sometimes the things that delight clients the most about their new space are things that were unplanned “happy accidents” that occurred as a result of a creative contractor. The fluidity of of a job often requires an open mind and creative thinking. Your contractor should exhibit good problem solving and a willingness to play the devil’s advocate to get to the best solution.

11. Many Repeat Clients

A contractor with many repeat customers is probably reliable, trustworthy and cost-effective. If your contractor has a long list of happy clients and an outstanding reputation — then chances are you’ll be satisfied.

12. Home Protection

Remodeling is a dusty, dirty job. If dust isn’t adequately controlled, it gets everywhere, including into your home’s ductwork where it can be spread throughout the house and damage mechanical equipment. Your contractor should have a plan for controlling dust and protecting surfaces.
Additionally, job sites need to be secure from unwanted access. A contractor should explain how the site will be secured at night and how access will be controlled during the day.

If you have a project that you're dreaming about, we'd love to answer any questions you may have. It's easy...just click below to start the conversation.


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